Hike in OFWs’ PhilHealth contribution slammed

TWO militant lawmakers questioned the decision of  PhilHealth to increase the premium dues for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Bayan Muna Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite decried the additional burden to the OFWs  

Based on computations of migrant groups, the new increase in PhilHealth contributions will  force OFWs to shell out up to P50,000 even before they leave the country.

The two solons said what is worse, the implementing rules of the government’s health care program  required that all land-based OFWs pay their premiums to the  Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) before they are issued overseas employment certificates (OECs).

“This effectively makes OFWs hostages of PhilHealth as they would only be allowed to leave if they pay their ransom of up to P50,000,” said Zarate, the House Deputy Minority leader.

For his part, Gaite said instead of picking on OFWs and hostaging them, PhilHealth should first address the  anomalies besieging the health fund such as  “ghost patients and ghost dialysis  services” and  other issues that drain its fund.

“In previous Congresses Bayan Muna along with other members of the Makabayan bloc have questioned the premium rate increases of PhilHealth because its officials were reported to have been given P1.5 billion in bonuses despite issues raised by the Commission on Audit over the allegedly slow processing of claims,” Gaite said.

Gaite added that it is unfortunate that despite the PhilHealth controversy its budget for 2020 is augmented in the General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

“So it is really questionable why they have to force OFWs to pay more. There may be something fishy with this PhilHealth premium hike and we are asking Congress to investigate the matter,” Gaite said.

PhilHealth officials had admitted that they only have a very small utilization rate of 10 to 12 percent because of  “inefficiency and poor system.”